Howard Lincoln

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Howard Lincoln
Lincoln and Armstrong salute Navy (cropped).jpg
Lincoln in 2007
Born (1940-02-14) February 14, 1940 (age 82)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Known forFormer chairman of Nintendo of America, former CEO of Seattle Mariners
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1966–1970
RankUS Navy O3 infobox.svg Lieutenant

Howard Charles Lincoln (born February 14, 1940) is an American lawyer and businessman, known primarily for being the former Chairman of Nintendo of America and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Seattle Mariners baseball team, representing absentee majority owner Hiroshi Yamauchi until Yamauchi died on September 19, 2013.

Early life[edit]

Born in Oakland, California, Lincoln was an active Boy Scout. As a thirteen-year-old boy, he posed for the famous Norman Rockwell painting The Scoutmaster, which was published in a calendar in 1956.[1] In the painting, young Lincoln is on the immediate right of the campfire. Lincoln eventually attained the rank of Eagle Scout and received a Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

Lincoln matriculated in 1957 at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his BA in political science in 1962 and his law degree from Berkeley Law in 1965. From 1966 to 1970, he served as a Naval lieutenant within the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He then worked in private practice as an attorney in Seattle, Washington.


Lincoln did legal work in 1981 for Nintendo, culminating in the legal case Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., in which Universal City Studios had sued Nintendo claiming that the video game Donkey Kong infringed upon Universal City Studio's rights to King Kong. Lincoln hired John Kirby to represent Nintendo in the courtroom. Nintendo won the case, as well as successive court appeals.[2]

Lincoln met Yamauchi in 1982 and joined Nintendo in 1983, as its Senior Vice President and General Counsel. He and Minoru Arakawa were instrumental in rebuilding the North American video game industry (after the crash of 1983) with their highly successful marketing of the Nintendo Entertainment System.[3] In 1994, he was appointed its chairman.[4][5]

As chairman of Nintendo, Lincoln was involved in litigation with Tengen, a subidiary of Atari Games, about the rights to Tetris, and defended Nintendo's use of the 10NES lock-out chip.[6][7] He represented the company in the 1993 United States Senate hearings on video games, during which he promised Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl he would not release Night Trap on a Nintendo console because it was considered inappropriate for children.[8]

Lincoln announced his retirement from Nintendo in 1999[9] and departed the company in 2000[10]

Seattle Mariners[edit]

Lincoln's tenure as CEO of the Seattle Mariners has seen both success and controversy. Lincoln was considered instrumental, along with former Senator Slade Gorton, in preserving the team's location in Seattle and negotiating with the city for a new stadium, Safeco Field. His stewardship has seen the team's first post-season appearances, in 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2001, as well as the aggressive expansion of the Mariners into the Japanese market, most noticeably through the acquisition of Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki.

He did not retain field managers and general managers like Lou Piniella and Pat Gillick[citation needed]

He retired in 2016, concurrent with Nintendo selling its stake in the team.[11] [12][13]


In addition to Lincoln's business achievements, he is an active philanthropist. He has served as campaign chair for United Way of King County and the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also a trustee of Western Washington University.[14]


  1. ^ "The Scoutmaster by Norman Rockwell". Oakland Area Council. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  2. ^ Sheff, David (1994). Game over : how Nintendo conquered the world (1st Vintage Books ed.). New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-73622-0. OCLC 29390202.
  3. ^ "75 Power Players". Next Generation. Imagine Media (11): 58. November 1995. In 1985 when Nintendo entered the US home videogame market, there was no home videogame market, just the spectacular remnants of an industry that left everyone wary. With Arakawa and Lincoln at the helm and the odds stacked against them, Nintendo of America brilliantly laid the foundations for the sprawling, multifaceted beast that now likes to be known as the interactive entertainment business.
  4. ^ Crump, Larry (23 June 2005). "For the Sake of the Team: Unity and Disunity in a Multiparty Major League Baseball Negotiation". Negotiation Journal. 21 (3): 338. doi:10.1111/j.1571-9979.2005.00067.x. ISSN 1571-9979. Retrieved 20 January 2022. For example, in 1994 Lincoln was appointed chairman of Nintendo of America..
  5. ^ "Lincoln Named Chairman At Nintendo Of America | The Seattle Times". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  6. ^ Groves, Martha (1989-03-06). "Judge Bars Suits by Nintendo, Atari Games". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  7. ^ McGill, Douglas C. (1989-03-09). "A Nintendo Labyrinth Filled With Lawyers, Not Dragons". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  8. ^ McWhertor, Michael (2018-04-20). "Nintendo once vowed Night Trap would never be on its systems, but things change". Polygon. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  9. ^ Street Journal, Jim CarltonStaff Reporter of The Wall (1999-07-26). "Howard Lincoln Will Retire From Nintendo's U.S. Unit". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  10. ^ "Ex-Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln had big brass balls". Destructoid. 2013-03-17. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  11. ^ Press, The Associated (2016-04-28). "Seattle Mariners CEO resigns amid ownership change". oregonlive. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  12. ^ "CEO Howard Lincoln leaving Mariners with 'a few regrets'". The Seattle Times. 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  13. ^ "Nintendo plans sale of Mariners' controlling stake". 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  14. ^ "Seattle Mariners Chairman, CEO Howard Lincoln Appointed WWU Trustee". Western Washington University. Western Washington University Communications. Archived from the original on 2006-06-26. Retrieved 30 June 2021.

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